Classically North African
The ‘Red City’ of Marrakech is a fascinating urban hub that mixes ancient ritual with modern high density living. Morocco’s third largest city is now home to a million people – and it shows. Go, expect crowds everywhere, new scents and sensations, a visual feast, over-the-top shopping... and get set for some serious haggling!
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First port of call for any shopping in Marrakech must be the medina’s souks but prepare for sensory overload. Follow your nose through the winding streets to fragrant mounds of colourful spices atone of the many spice markets (Rahba Kedima). Fondle fabrics, furniture and ceramics at craft co-operative Complexe d’Artisanat (7 Derb Baissi, Rue de la Kasbah). At Dar El Bacha, shops sell passementerie, jewellery and organic argan oil; ogle stylish leather bags and accessories from Lalla (Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz). Outside the medina, sophisticated boutiques abound in the chichi modern district of Gueliz. Stop off at Michèle Baconnier (12 rue des Vieux Marrakchis) for high-end contemporary clothes and hand-embroidered shoes.
Food & Drink
From street food to fine dining, Marrakech is a foodie’s delight. Head to Jemaa el Fna square after 6pm and choose tagines, pastilles and grilled meats from over 100 stalls – alternatively, head for rooftop cocktails overlooking the square at sunset; the view from the refined Terrace des Épices (15 Souk Cherifia, Sidi Abdelaziz) is popular with local expats. Those hankering after evening entertainment along with their meal should try Le Salama (40 rue des Banques), a lively touristy dining spot featuring a belly dancing show most evenings. For special occasions, Gastro MK (14 Derb Sebaai, Bab Laksour) is the place to go, with a fearsomely good reputation for fine dining.
Raise a cheer for the determined athletes at Marrakech’s annual marathon. Over 6,000 runners take to the streets, running a varied circuit that skirts the outer edges of the medina and takes in the scenic orange groves of the Menara gardens along the way.
Dakka Marrakchia Festival
This vibrant music festival celebrates the traditional Moroccan music that has been passed down through generations. The music features a combination of drums and chants, and blends together to make a lively, foot-stomping beat.
Festival National des Arts Populaires
Featuring everything from dancers and artists to snake charmers and theatre groups, this multi-day festival sees the city’s frenetic pace move up a notch as it rolls into town. Head to El Badi Palace and Jemaa el Fna square to be at the heart of the action.
Montreux Jazz Festival Morocco
At this Moroccan incarnation of the well-known Swiss festival, music lovers can enjoy listening to traditional Moroccan music in lavish settings such as Bahia Palace and Menara gardens.
Festival International du Film de Marrakech
Putting Moroccan cinema into the spotlight, Marrakech’s film festival attracts an international crowd keen to see the best of the country’s burgeoning film industry.
Marrakech is full of hotel options catering for all budgets and needs. In the medina, ultra-chic Riad El Fenn (2 Derb Moullay Abdullah Ben Hezzian) oozes understated glamour, combining traditional elements with modern touches. More affordable is the Angsana Riads Collection, consisting of six riads spread throughout the medina, each with its own distinct personality. Choose from opulent Riad Si Said, Thai-themed Riad Bab Firdaus and more. At centrally located Riad Itrane (113 Derb Jamaâ Derb Dabachi), budget-conscious travellers can relax in the pool after resisting temptation in the souks. Beyond the city walls, boutique hacienda JnaneTamsna (Douar Abiad) offers luxurious boho surroundings away from the bustle of the city.